Pragmatic Sonia backs Modi in fight against COVID-19

Pragmatic Sonia Gandhi backs PM Modi in fight against COVID-19

Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi extending her support to the 21-day lockdown and assurance to collaborate fully in every step taken by the government to combat COVID-19.

In her four-page letter to the Prime Minister, Gandhi also made suggestions to cushion the impact of the lockdown on the informal sector, farmers, medium and small enterprises.

Gandhi’s letter also signalled a departure from the sharply critical approach adopted by Rahul Gandhi, who had been targeting the Modi government for its handling of the COVID-19 situation with some party leaders calling for ouster of union ministers Piyush Goyal and Smriti Irani.

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"At this challenging and uncertain time, it is imperative for each one of us to rise above partisan interests and honour our duty towards our country and indeed towards humanity," she said.

Gandhi also described the 21-day lockdown announced by PM Modi as a "welcome step," signalling a conciliatory approach of the party and expressing solidarity with the government in the "fight to halt and defeat the coronavirus pandemic".

"As the President of the Indian National Congress, I would like to state that we will support and collaborate fully with every step taken by the Union Government to ensure the containment of the pandemic," she said.

Gandhi suggested that the Centre consider deferring all EMIs for six months and waive interests charged by banks for this period.

Also Read: Coronavirus India update: State-wise total number of confirmed cases

She also said the government should "immediately put in place broad-based social protection measures including direct cash transfers” to daily wagers, MNREGA workers, factory workers, construction workers, farmers and others in the unorganized sector.

Gandhi pitched the party’s marquee 2019 election promise for minimum income guarantee – NYAY for implementation in this time of “immense distress” for the poor

"Alternatively, a cash transfer of Rs 7,500 to every Jan Dhan account holder, PM Kisan Yojana account holder, all old-age/widow/differently-abled persons' pension, MNREGA worker's accounts, as a one-time special measure to tide over the 21-day lockdown period should be considered," the Congress President said.

Gandhi said 10 kg of rice or wheat could be distributed to ration cardholders free of cost during this period.

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